Few changes took place in Pokesdown during the first half of the 19th century. A small Dissenters' chapel had been opened in 1835, fuller details of which will be given in a later chapter. The chapel became too small for the congregation, and when Mr. Elias Lane was appointed in charge of it in 1850 he commenced looking for a site on which to build a new and larger chapel. It was this requirement which indirectly was to lead to the initial development of the village of Pokesdown. In 1855 Mr. Lane approached Mr. Wadham Locke, the owner of some land in the district, asking whether he would be willing to sell a piece of the land for a church site. In his reply in November 1855 Mr. Locke said that he was not prepared to sell such a piece of land. However, he went on to say that he had a field of twenty seven acres in extent which he would be willing to sell for one thousand pounds. This field had recently been cleared of fir trees, and it had a few cottages on it as well as a bam and some outbuildings, and there were four wells. Mr. Lane consulted a Christchurch solicitor, Risdon Darracott Sharp, with the result that Mr. Sharp bought the land, the final conveyance for which was dated 7th March 1857.
Mr. Sharp allocated a portion of the land for the chapel site with an adjoining graveyard, and the rest of it he decided to lay out with roads and building plots. It was in connection with the building of roads that the following notice appeared in the Christchurch Times of 19th September 1857: Road Making - Pokesdown. The greater portion of the New Road at Pokesdown made across the piece of ground divided into building allotments and which connects the road to Stourfield and Stourcliffe with the road to Bourne, required to be gravelled, etc. Any person willing to contract for the completing of such road are requested to send tenders or estimates for the completion to Mr. D. Sharp, Solicitor, Christchurch, before 29th September. A gravel pit is close at hand.
This twenty-seven acre field, as will be seen from the plan, formed the core of the new village. Mr. Sharp had divided the field into thirty two plots of various sizes and shapes. The land consisted of allotments 126 and 106 of the Award, and that part of allotment 95 on the west of Award road No. 9. The intention of Mr. Sharp was to sell off these plots to be developed as a building estate. In 1857 this was an entirely isolated enterprise, being over two miles from the only other project of a similar nature, in Bournemouth. It is likely that the reason for this proposed development was directly linked with the anticipated arrival of the railway at Bournemouth.
The railway had reached Southampton by 1840, and it turned it into a major dock and port, taking it out of the resort business and leaving the stage in this part of the coast clear for Bournemouth to take a lead. By 1847 the railway had advanced to Poole and Dorchester, but Bournemouth had actively resisted its charm for fear of the 'wrong types' being able to have easy access to the select resort. However, in 1856, Improvement Commissioners were appointed under an Act of Parliament to administer the affairs of the growing town. The Commissioners were more inclined to favour a railway connection to Bournemouth.
When the survey was made in 1857 in respect of the Bill for the Ringwood, Christchurch and Bournemouth Railway, which it was planned, was to run through part of Pokesdown, already six cottages were being built on the estate near the proposed route of the railway, and there were some more cottages near what is now Southbourne road. The development of the thirty two plots was quite varied, and it will be of some interest to give an outline of them. Plot No. 1 was sub-divided by Mr. Sharp into twenty two building lots, eleven on either side of part of Darracott Road. One side of the rest of that road was taken up by plot 2, which was similarly sub-divided and sold as separate lots.
These building lots were sold by Mr. Sharp over a period of several years. Rather strangely, the opposite side of Darracott Road was plot 32, beyond which were plots 3 and 4 covering Norwood Place and adjoining land. In a rather complicated series of transactions plot 3 was bought by John Gallon in 1859, and a few years later it was combined with parts of plots 4 and 5, and then with an acre of plot 32. Altogether this larger unit was divided into twenty seven building lots. Years later, in 1905, part of the land was taken to enable Seabourne Road to be straightened for the tramway extension. Norwood Place was cut through this land.
Plots 6, 7, 8 and 9 continued along what was then Cromwell Road, towards Christchurch Road, with Harcourt Road later being cut across pans of 6 and 7. Plot 10 faced Christchurch Road, and in 1889 became the site of the depot of the Bournemouth Boscombe and Westbourne Omnibus Company. When that Company went into liquidation in 1903 the land was bought by Bournemouth Corporation and a new tram depot was built on it. The next plot, no. 11, was sold to Emmanuel Watton in 1857 and on it the New Bell Inn was built.
Crossing Cromwell Road plots 15 and 16 were originally bought by William Troke in 1857, but he sold them to Edward Collins of Moordown in 1862. A piece of these plots and of Plot 14 was taken for the making of Collins Road, the present Stourvale Road. A large section of plot 17 and a larger part of plot 23 were bought by the Railway in 1859. That part of Plot 23 which faced Christchurch Road was bought by R. Manley on which he built the Three Horse Shoes and a smithy. These were replaced by Messrs. Eldridge Pope in 1903 with the White Horse Inn.
Plot 24 was allocated to the Congregational Chapel and its graveyard. The next plot, 25, was quite large running from Southboume Road along one side of Cromwell Road; pan of Wyncombe Road cut across this land. Another large plot was 26, which was divided into two sections. Later in 1897 one of these sections was developed by C. Miles as the Victoria Estate; the road running through it was at first named Windsor Road, but later called Ashboume Road. The remaining plots 27 to 31 all faced what is now Seabourne Road as far as Southville Road.
Thus it was the purchase of the twenty seven acre field which began the development of Pokesdown from a farm and some cottages into a village and. by the end of the century, into a sizeable town.
A map of the building estate, showing none of the surrounding land, bearing the title 'Pokesdown' and dated between 1866 and 1871, shows how development had progressed by that time. Apart from showing buildings, it shows new roads and the name given to each.
The roads on and around the estate were named after English statesmen. The primary road from Christchurch Road to Award road No. 9 was named Cromwell Road, after the Protector, 1599 to 1658.
Award road No. 9, later to be called Southboume Road, was at that time named Hampden Road, after John Hampden, the Parliamentarian who was killed in the Civil War. Award allotment 106 formed an "L" shape around an isolated old inclosure, and to fill the foot of the 'L' Darracott Road was formed, named after the Estate owner, a forgivable indulgence It was impracticable for Darracott Road to meet Cromwell Road. so Cobden Road was formed, named after Richard Cohden 1804 to 1865, particularly remembered for his successful fight against the Corn Laws.
Cobden Road not only gave access to Darracott Road, but itself opened up Award lots 126 and 95 to further development. This was a significant design decision, because it joined an existing lane, and was eventually to form part of Seabourne Road, turning Cromwell Road from a residential cul-de-sac into a principal traffic route through a locally important shopping core.
Two new roads were added to help in opening the area: one was provisionally called Collins Road and ran from Hampden Road up to Cromwell Road. The other new road was between Collins Road and Cromwell Road, and was named Windham Road. Collins Road was later renamed Victoria Road. Cobden Road was extended and renamed Sea Road, and eventually was straightened. Cromwell Road was joined to Sea Road, and the whole road was renamed Seabourne Road.
Hampden Road was extended beyond Stourfield House towards the new Southbourne, and became Southbourne Road. The old name was consigned to a minor side road named Hampden Lane. A short length of Cobden Road, which in the straightening process became a side road, then received the name Seabourne Place, and the name Cobden lapsed. Windham Road clashed with the road in Springbourne named after William Wyndham Fan", and it became Wyncombe Road. Similarly, Victoria Road would have clashed with a road at Springbourne and on 3rd March 1903 it became Stourvale Road. It formed an extension with Pokesdown Lane, and the new name was given to the whole length.
At this time house building did not have to be registered with any public body, and often houses were built without the making of a plan, apart from that of the builders; no one would have been interested and the builders often did not need a plan as they were building to traditional designs. In the absence of plans or records, it is only deeds or occasional maps like that of 1866 which provide information as the age of buildings. The total number of buildings on the Estate at this time was in the region of seventy'.
The nearest developments were at Boscombe Spa, on Lord Malmesbury's twenty one acres by the Chine, and at Boscombe Estate around Palmerston, Haviland, Gladstone and Shelley Roads, and the then unnamed Ashley Road. Pokesdown's building Estate was surrounded by woodland to the south, farmland to the east and north and the heath of uncultivated land to the west. Things were changing however. The Railway had caned a way through Pokesdown in a bid to join Bournemouth to the L.S.W.R. network. A large building estate had been built at Springbourne and further estates were laid out at Winton and Westbourne. Springbourne and Winton took their names from the Estate names; the name of Boscombe had been around for centuries as had been Pokesdown.
Up to this time, Pokesdown was the only village between Bournemouth and Christchurch, for until 1865 Boscombe had scarcely come into being, as in addition to Boscombe Manor there were just a public house, the Palmerston, and three mud and thatch cottages.
The entry for Pokesdown in a Christchurch Directory of 1867 reads: "Pokesdown is an increasing and thriving village, where building has of late years been carried on extensively. The projected railway to Bournemouth will have a station in this village. Here there is a church and a large Independent Chapel. Schools, day and Sunday, are connected with these places of worship. Boscombe is a hamlet near Pokesdown which is daily increasing".
The Bournemouth Observer in its issue of 17 February 1877 described Pokesdown as 'a modern village midway between Boscombe and Iford', whilst the 1880 edition of Hankinson's Guide to Bournemouth stated 'The Village of Pokesdown is situated two and a half to three miles from Bournemouth, on the Christchurch road, and in appearance is very pretty. Very little uniformity in building matters is here displayed, and residences of even description, from humble cotters home to handsome villas have been raised, and are now being erected with all possible speed by enterprising builders on the many pleasant spots and capital sites in the neighbourhood, and what was once a village is now fast approaching a densely populated suburb to the town of Bournemouth".
A smithy had been established adjoining the Three Horse Shoes public house (presumably the former Post Office Arms, and now the White Horse), and this was for sale in 1873, when the following advertisement was issued on 16th August 'At Pokesdown near Bournemouth a Smith's shop, with goodwill of Business. Tools to be taken at a valuation. For particulars apply to Mr. T. Manley, Three Horse Shoes Inn, Pokesdown'.
In 1876 a Provident Dispensary was opened in Boscombe, to make provision for artisan and working people of the whole district, including Pokesdown, by means of a weekly payment scheme, through which treatment and medicines were supplied to the subscribers.
During 1878 the Popham family were evidently away for some months, for on 27th April the following advertisement appeared in the Bournemouth Observer:
Messrs. C. Reekes and Son are instructed to let neatly and handsomely furnished, from the middle of May 1878. the above convenient and delightfully situated Country Residence, about two miles from Christchurch, one mile from Boscombe and two miles from Bournemouth, surrounded by its beautiful shrubberies and pleasure grounds, tastefully laid out in terraces, croquet lawns and flower beds. There is also a large walled-in produce kitchen garden, conservatory and forcing house.
This desirable residence contains entrance hall, large and lofty drawing and dining rooms, morning room, library, housekeeper's room, butler's pantry, etc., 10 principal and secondary bedrooms, large kitchen, scullery, larder, dairy, cellars, also coachman's and gardener's cottages, four stall stable and coach house, 25 acres of arable and pasture land.
The census for 1881 shows the increase in population from five hundred and eighty one in 1871 to eight hundred and thirty eight. The people who were moving into Pokesdown and into other suburbs of Bournemouth were mainly the skilled and unskilled workmen and their families, who were supplying the needs of Bournemouth but not welcome as residents any nearer to its heart.
Reproduced with permisson of the Author.
© J. A. Young